Paper Of The Week: Gonzalez et al. 2015. Applications of geographic information systems and remote sensing techniques to conservation of amphibians in northwestern Ecuador

25 Mar

The new publication which uses GIS in biological research which I’d like to highlight this week is Gonzalez et al. 2015. Applications of geographic information systems and remote sensing techniques to conservation of amphibians in northwestern Ecuador. Global Ecology and Conservation, 3: 562 – 574.

As the title suggests, it details a study where GIS and remote sensing were used to investigate and monitor the conservation status of amphibians in Ecuador. The reason I selected this paper is because it highlights how remote sensing can be used to monitor what is going on in distant locations at relatively little cost (in comparison to having to mount an expedition to visit them in person). In addition, while much attention is paid to charismatic megafauna, it is nice to see a paper which is using GIS to help drive forward conservation efforts for amphibians.

In this paper, the authors used supervised classification of IKONOS satellite images to classify land use into forest, pasture or other land use types, with a high degree of accuracy for three time periods between 1974 and 2011. From this, they could identify exactly how land use had changed over time, and infer how this is likely to have impacted local amphibian species within the study area.

If you’re interested in using GIS and remote sensing to assess and monitor changes in land use, especially for conservation purposes, then this is a study which is well worth reading.

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Dr Colin D. MacLeod,
Founder, GIS In Ecology
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